Raising awareness by Dawn Ogle

Crazy. Unstable. Mental case. Insane. Unbalanced. All of these words are used to describe one thing. One thing that people make fun of, that people use lightly to talk about someone, one thing that people are afraid to hear that they are. Bipolar. Manic depressive. Those words were uttered by my doctor when I was Twenty-two years old. Something I expected because of my behavior, something I was hoping to not be true.
My hearing went away. The doctor was speaking, but I heard nothing. Bipolar. I am bipolar. The first part to recovery is admitting it right? The doctor was still speaking, and I was deaf to it all. This couldn’t be could it? I knew in my heart that it was true though.
When I turned fourteen years old, my mood changed. One minute I was over stimulated and thought I could do anything. I wanted to shop, to run, to do everything in just was quick moment. Then I’d crash, cry, not leave my bed or talk to people for weeks. This happened all throughout the rest of my teenage years.
Growing up I just thought it was a typical teenage kind of thing. Once I got a little older though, I recognized signs of the erratic behavior. I remembered what it was like growing up with my father, and fellow bipolar. I researched and then decided it was time to get tested.
Unlike my father who wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his forties, I was in my mere early twenties. It wasn’t fair. Life was no longer fair. Everything was about to change in my life.
Finally, my hearing returned. I heard the doctor say something about medication. I would have to medicate myself on a daily basis. It was unfortunate for me to think about. I would be medicated daily, and I was afraid I wouldn’t have any feelings left. That I’d be a zombie, just a person dead on the inside walking on the earth.
My attitude without the medication was also not a good thought though. Either way I wasn’t going to be happy with the decision I had to make. I went back home to my husband, and we discussed the best approach for this newly identified mental illness that I had.
Mental illness. I had an illness, and it resigned in my brain. I wouldn’t have a cure for it except to take pills everyday, and even that wasn’t a guarantee to control my mood swings.
Unfortunately, this illness can’t be seen like the flu, colds, shingles, etc. This is something that is inside of you and lasts forever. Something that your mind and body have to fight on a daily basis.
There isn’t enough out there that can prepare a person with Bipolar disorder to understand what is to come, because unfortunately there are hundreds of medications that can be taken to control your moods. Sounds great right? Well, the bad news is that not everyone with Bipolar is the same. One medication might be perfect for one person and send another person off the deep end.
After my husband and I spoke together, we decided that I should try medicine to control my anger, sadness, and extreme happiness. Anger and depression were my worst side effects to this illness. I could be set off by the tiniest thing and scream, fight, and hurt my husband. That was my manic state. On the other side of the spectrum I would get so depressed I would sleep nineteen hours a day, not eat, not move, not do anything.
Back to the doctors I went so that I could be a lab rat and try whatever pills they threw my way. I started off with one. Well, I was no longer depressed. Instead I was angrier than I had ever been in my life I believe.
Take two, trying another medication. I was no longer angry. Instead I was so depressed that I feel like I was dehydrated from crying so much.
Take three. I still wasn’t too angry. The depression turned into nothingness. I felt absolutely nothing. So much to the point that I tried to take my own life. I overdosed on my pills, and I was rushed to the hospital. Here I am though, still alive, but not quite well at that point.
I went to the mental hospital. I spent the weekend there on suicide watch. Watch is what I did though. I watched people in therapy sessions. I watched people stare at the walls. I stared at the walls. Meals were awful. Books were awful. Movies were awful. Seats were awful. Doctors were awful. Everything was awful. I learned something about myself there though. I learned that I would get through it, and I would never let it get that worse again so I didn’t have to spend time in that mental hospital again.
Seven months later I was back in the mental hospital. By my choice though. Funny how that works isn’t it? I never wanted to go back, but then I got so low again that I didn’t know where else to go. I looked at the hospital from a new perspective though when I arrived. I wanted to get better. I talked in therapy, I tried to make friends while I was there, and I read books. A few days later I was released, and I felt the light at the end of the tunnel.
I knew that someday I would feel good. Not good again, but good. I was never truly ever good. I’ve had this illness my whole life, and I’ve never truly been on the stable track.
Time for new pills to be dispensed at the pharmacy for me to try. I was on a new mood stabilizer, anti-depressant, and another pill that was supposed to make the stabilizer and anti-depressant stronger.
It worked. It actually worked. I was happy but not too happy when something excited me, and when something sad happened I was sad, but not too sad that I couldn’t get out of bed. When something upset me and made me angry I talked through it instead of throwing things breaking things hitting things, and screaming at the top of my lungs.
I was stable. I am stable. I am happy at times, and I am sad at times. Of course, I am also angry at times. Luckily I feel these emotions when I should instead of times that don’t make sense.
Many people don’t understand that taking medicine for Bipolar disorder doesn’t fully heal you. It’s not a miracle drug that makes the mood swings go away forever. The pills are to help with mood swings, not heal you.
That means there’s going to be a time that a Bipolar person will still have an “episode” of anger, sadness, extreme excitement, or the feeling that you can do anything. It’s not a cure all. Remember that. Some days are going to be better than others. With this disease, living with it or living with someone who has it, is still going to be trial and error. Finding triggers that set you off, finding things that can put you in a better place, and understanding that you can have a bad day.
If you only take one thing from this, remember that it’s not a choice. We don’t choose to be Bipolar, and it’s not something to brush off. It is a serious illness, but the good news is it can be controlled for the most part. I live a normal married life. I’m a stay at home mom with two amazing children, and I have wonderful friends. Of course I have days that I wish I could take back, but in the end, I am a better person, because I took the initiative to get help. To get better. And because of that, I am a better person.
Bipolar is a disease that you can control, or you can let it control you. It’s something I’m going to live with for the rest of my life, but I refuse to let it define me. My name is Dawn, and I’m bipolar.

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